Mary Eveline Werts

Female 1857 - 1932


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  • Born  1 Sep 1857  Muskingum County, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Female 
    Died  1 May 1932  Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried  Russell Cemetery, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I1816  Virts
    Last Modified  24 Jul 2014 

    Father  John Jackson Werts,   b. 6 Feb 1831, Muskingum County, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Oct 1901, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Esther Ann Wymer,   b. 18 Sep 1837, Muskingum County, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Dec 1912, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  29 Aug 1854  Muskingum County, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F926  Group Sheet

    Family  James Madison May,   b. 25 Jan 1849, Monroe County, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Mar 1912, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  23 Dec 1874  Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. James Virgil May,   b. 4 Jan 1876, Wayne County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Jun 1955, Marinette County, Wisconsin Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Junia Effie May,   b. 28 Jul 1877, Wayne County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jan 1966, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. John Clarence May,   b. 21 May 1879, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 May 1959, Chariton, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
     4. Ada Mabel May,   b. 4 Mar 1881, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Mar 1965, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
     5. William Stanford May,   b. 7 Nov 1882, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jan 1967, Chariton, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. George Albert May,   b. 21 Feb 1884, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Aug 1967, Forest Grove, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. Walter Lloyd May,   b. 6 Nov 1885, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Nov 1973, Chariton, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
     8. Belle Susie May,   b. 14 Nov 1888, Russell, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Dec 1970, Dubuque, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified  7 Oct 2012 
    Family ID  F956  Group Sheet

  • Photos

    » Slide Show
    Mabel Werts Allen, Lydia Jane Werts Rockey, Mary Eveline Werts May and Susan Margaret Werts McCoy
    Mabel Werts Allen, Lydia Jane Werts Rockey, Mary Eveline Werts May and Susan Margaret Werts McCoy
    left to right: Mabel Werts (Allen), Lydia Jane Werts (Rockey), Mary Eveline Werts (May) and Susan Margaret Werts McCoy)

    Daughters of John Jackson Wirts and Esther Ann Wymer

    Mary Eveline was born September 1, 1857 in Muskingum County Ohio and died May 1, 1932 in Russell, Iowa. She married James Madison May on December 23, 1874. He was born January 25, 1849 in Monroe County, Indiana and died March 12, 1912 in Russell, Iowa. Both are buried in Russell Cemetery, Russell, Iowa.

    Lydia Jane was born April 11, 1859 in Muskingum County Ohio and died June 14, 1906 in Russell, Iowa. She married Philip A. Rockey on March 14, 1883. He was born January 8, 1857 in Russell, Iowa and died October 11, 1943 in Russell. Both are buried in Russell Cemetery, Russell, Iowa.

    Susan Margaret was born January 15, 1871 in Russell, Iowa and died June 11, 1951 in Imperial, Nebraska. She married Sherman Emmet McCoy on December 19, 1889. He was born October 11, 1866 in Lagrange, Iowa and died January 18, 1938 in Imperial. Both are buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Imperial, Nebraska.

    Mabel was born June 7, 1875 in Russell, Iowa and died February 17, 1973 in Des Mones, Iowa. She married Aylmer Jay Allen on October 2, 1901. He was born November 24, 1873 in Lagrange, Iowa and died November 29, 1961 in Charition, Iowa. Both are buried in Russell Cemetery, Russell, Iowa.

    Photo courtesy of Sharon Lynn Amore







    Mary Eveline Werts and James Madison May
    Mary Eveline Werts and James Madison May
    Mary Eveline Werts was born September 1, 1857 in Muskingum County Ohio to John Jackson and Esther Ann Wymer Werts. She died May 1, 1932 in Russell, Iowa. She married James Madison May on December 23, 1874. He was born January 25, 1849 in Monroe County, Indiana and died March 12, 1912 in Russell, Iowa. Both are buried in Russell Cemetery, Russell, Iowa.

    Photos courtesy of Sharon Lynn Amore and Mary Beth Noonan
    John Madison May Family
    John Madison May Family
    Photo courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Noonan Jensen
    James Madison May (1849-1912) and Mary Eveline Werts May (1857-1932) Family Photo
    James Madison May (1849-1912) and Mary Eveline Werts May (1857-1932) Family Photo
    Photo courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Noonan Jensen

    Albums
    John Jackson Werts and Margaret Maple
    John Jackson Werts and Margaret Maple (6)

  • Notes 
    • THE CHARITON HERALD-PATRIOT, May 5, 1932

      Mary Evaline Werts, daughter of John Jackson and Esther Ann Werts, was born Sept. 1, 1857, in Muskingum county, Ohio, and passed away May 1, 1932, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mabel Robb, near Russell, Iowa, at the age of 74 years and 8 months.

      She lived with her parents in Ohio until she was seven years old when they came to Lucas county, Iowa, and made their home on a farm near Russell.

      She was united in marriage to James Madison May on Dec. 23, 1874, and they lived on a farm on at the edge of Wayne county for several years then moved to the farm near Russell which has been her home for over fifty years.

      Her husband passed away on November 3, 1912. Eight children were born to them, all of whom were at her bedside when death came. They are Dr. James Virgil May, of Marinette, Wisconsin; Mrs. Junia Van Nice, John C., Mrs. Mabel Robb, William S. and Walter Lloyd, of Russell; Dr. George May, of Des Moines, Iowa; and Mrs. Belle Bradley, of Dubuque, Iowa.

      Mrs. May was converted in childhood and joined the Lutheran church of which her parents were members. In 1872 the family transferred their membership to the Presbyterian church of Russell, of which she was a faithful member until her death. She had the simple trusting faith that our Heavenly Father desires in His children and by teaching her little children at her knee and living a consistent and devoted christian life, was enabled to pass this faith on to them.

      She was possessed of a kind, loving disposition that endeared her to all who came to know her. She had the soul of an artist and truly loved the beautiful things, always having her home surrounded by flowers in summer and her windows filled with blooming plants in winter. At the age of 60 years she took up painting as a pastime and, having had no training, she painted with skill, pictures for each of her children and grandchildren, brothers, sisters and made many other beautiful things that will be cherished by those who loved her.

      She leaves to mourn her departure eight children, 21 grandchildren, 5 adopted grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, six brothers, John Q. Werts, of Cameron, Wis.; Jacob L. Werts, of Powell, Wyoming; Dr. Chas. M. Werts, of Des Moines, Iowa; Alfred Riley, Clifton E. and Oliver O., all of Russell; two sisters, Mrs. S. E. McCoy, of Imperial, Nebraska; and Mrs. A. J. Allen, of Russell, besides many other relatives and friends.

      Funeral services were held at the Russell Presbyterian church Tuesday afternoon at two o'clock, conducted by Rev. Russell, followed by interment in the Russell cemetery.

      Among the number in attendance at the last rites were her daughter, Mrs. Belle Bradley and family of Dubuque; her sons, Dr. Geo. Werts and family, of Des Moines, and Dr. Virgil Werts and family, of Marinette, Wisconsin; a sister, Mrs. S. E. McCoy, of Imperial, Nebraska; a brother, Dr. C. M. Werts, of Des Moines.
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      She lived with her parents in Ohio until she was seven years old, when they came to Lucas County, Iowa and made their home on a farm near Russell. After marriage, they lived on a farm in the edge of Wayne County for seven years, then moved to the farm near Russell. She was converted in childhood and joined the Lutheran Church, of which her parents were members. In 1872 the family transferred their membership to the Presbyterian Church in Russell. She enjoyed arts and crafts. She did oil paintings on glass in her later years and some of them survive among her descendants today. She always had flowers around, outdoors in the spring and summer, blooming house plants in winter. She learned to drive in 1916, long before it was popular for women to do so. Her start was delayed several months because her granddaughter Isabelle was born on the scheduled day of her first driving lesson, then winter set in. After James death in 1912, she lived on in the big house and her home was a center for family activity during the years before her death May 1, 1932. She played the reed organ.
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      by Isabelle Van Nice Winship

      Mary Evaline Werts May said that the most interesting thing that happened in her young life was the train trip west. That would be the move from Ohio to Iowa in 1864. There was one thing that she did not like about it, and resentment still sounded in her voice over it many years later. In Chicago she had been required to hold her older brother John Quincys hand every minute of the very long time when they had to go from one railroad station to another some distance away. Before the trip, though not quite seven, as the oldest daughter she had often helped her mother by holding the hands of the younger ones. What she remembered of Chicago was the embarrassment and humiliation of being treated like a very small child. Then came the more enjoyable train ride and getting to Uncle Bill Maples.

      Another highlight of her early life had been when her father bought an organ for the family. She soon learned to play it well enough to play for church.

      James Madison May had been the school teacher for Mary Evaline and her brothers and sisters. When she was fifteen or sixteen her parents took her out of country school and sent her to a girls
      academy in Chariton. In 1874, when she was seventeen, James Madison May was able to buy a farm and they were married.

      James Madison Mays mother had died when he was very young, and his Grandparents White helped raise him. He spent much of his time between age two and five in the general store which his father ran in Stanford, Indiana, and then in 1854 he went to Iowa with his father, returning to Indiana in 1856. There his father married again but the new bride did not want James Madison to return to Iowa with them. Two years later when he was nine years old he came to Iowa with his Grandparents White.

      The first home of Mr. and Mrs. James Madison May was about six miles south of Russell, just over the line in Wayne County, where the first three or more of their children were born. She got lonesome to see her mother and sisters there. In those days five or six miles could be a long ride in unpredictable weather, so she was glad when they moved nearer to Russell.
      In the 1890s James Madison May built the large two story Victorian house where their children grew up, though none of them were born in it. A daughter reported helping him lay out
      the foundation one evening, sighting on the North Star to be sure the house ran straight north and south. There were two front porches. Between them was a big bay window bordered by multicolored stained glass squares. A honeysuckle vine grew by the northeast front porch and a trumpet vine climbed over the southeast one. A wisteria vine shaded the southwest back porch and a wild grape climbed the windmill nearby. Mary Evaline was content to live there the rest of her life.
      Later a wing was built onto the northwest, where the youngest son Lloyd and his wife Bessie lived the first few years of their marriage. In 1928 and 1929 granddaughter Fern May Pierce and husband John Pierce lived in the wing. Nephew Walter Werts and family lived there about 1930.

      James Madison May, remembering the apple orchards of his childhood in Indiana, planted a large family orchard near the time that he built the house. Those trees were still producing long after he was gone. Probably most of the grandchildren remember the corner of the front yard was good for climbing and produced prolifically. When fully ripe the apples were a creamy white with a wonderful flavor and texture. The other memorable apple was a Wolf River that amazed passerby on the road. Unfortunately, that was all it was good for. The huge six inch diameter apples, somewhat flattened in shape to about four inches stem to bottom, tasted bitter and green no matter when they were picked or how long they were stored.

      The last cider making day was about 1919 or 1920. Men carried apples from orchard to kitchen, where women cored and cut them up ready to be carried out to the cider press. Men turned the handle, squeezing out the juice for jugs and pitchers. No apple juice since has ever tasted that good.

      After Mary Evalines youngest daughter Belle married in 1920, the family insisted that their mother should not stay alone in the big isolated house. The nearest neighbors, he brother Riley and wife, were a half mile north, her brother Oliver and family a little farther on, and the town of Russell was about a mile northeast. When nobody was living in the wing and when she did not have visiting relatives, she usually had one of her grandchildren staying with her, helping with chores.
      She always had a cow, chickens, and a flock of sheep. She milked the cow herself. The grandchild brought the cow in from the pasture, pumped water for it and the sheep, pumped and carried in water for drinking and all household purposes, carried out all waste water, for what plumbing there was in the house no longer worked. There were chickens to feed and water, eggs to gather, cobs to bring in for starting the fire, coal to bring up from the basement. The tank of kerosene stove had to be kept filled, as well as the kerosene lamps. The lamp chimneys had to be kept clean. There was help with the meals, then dishes to do. Sometimes just when the grandchild was ready to sit down and read there was another task or errand. But Grandma liked to read also. May evenings were spent quietly with each of them reading, sitting near the lamp on the round oak table.
      She believed young people should have regular tasks to do, and do them on time, and keep doing something useful. She told one of her granddaughters that she had pieced a full size quilt by herself when she was ten years old. It may have bothered her a little that her sons and daughters did not require their children to work as hard as they themselves had worked as children, and as she also had worked when young. Part of that change was because none of their families were as large as hers had been. Part of it was because many things had become easier in that span of years.

      The changes since the 1930s have been even greater.

      Her oldest daughter said that when Grandma first saw a screen door, about 1880, she went right home and made one for house, taking cheesecloth to the frame she built. It is not known if the screen door she first saw had a cheesecloth screen, or if screen wire was even available then. Nearly every household had a supply of cheesecloth back then, for is was used for many things besides cheese making: straining juice for jell, covering fruit drying in the sun for winter, covering the cradle for a sleeping baby for protection from flies. If it was starched stiff if was called mosquito netting, and tacked over open windows in summer. It is not known if she bought hinges to hang the screen door, or cut leather strap ones, but she wasted no time in adding that improvement to her home.

      In the 1920s and early 30s there were several May Family Sunday dinners each year, often at Grandma Mays but sometimes the May sons, like Mary Evalines younger brother, Dr. Charles Werts, were eye, ear, nose, and throat specialists. Dr. George May usually drove down from Des Moines with his wife Beulah and children, and at least twice the Russell relatives drove to Des Moines for the gathering. Dr. Virgil May, wife Viola and sons came from Wisconsin once every year or two. The rest of her family lived on farms. Two of the May daughters lived north and east of Russell, Junia and husband Lester R. Van Nice and their family, and Mabel and husband, Quincy Robb, Sr. and family. Son John and wife Lily and family lived between Russell and Chariton. Son Will and wife Sadie and family lived south of Russell just over the Wayne County line on the farm where Mr. and Mrs. James M. May had started their married life. Son Lloyd and wife Bessie and family lived only about a mile south of Grandmas home. The youngest daughter Belle and her husband Gordon Bradley and children were farther away near Dubuque and usually came once a year in late summer.

      At Grandmas, the big round oak table was extended with leaves to fullest size to hold the potluck feast. There were big trays to carry around it, trying to sample everything except the desserts, which were for the second trip around the table. Children of assorted ages usually carried their trays in the front parlor, back parlor, sitting room, or on the floor of the big upstairs hall, or steps on the front stairs.

      Of the twenty-some grandchildren who where around in the twenties and early thirties there was a range of 26 years between the oldest, James Boyer May, to the youngest, Larry May, and the first great-grandchild, Gene Ray Pierce. The youngest ones may not have been old enough to recall those Sundays. Veda Robb was the oldest granddaughter and Helen May just a few weeks younger. Other granddaughters were a year or two apart on down: Nola May, Fern May, Mabel May, Isabelle Van Nice, Ruth Evelyn May, Susie Van Nice, Hilda Jean May, Evelyn Bradley, Mary Lou May, and Virginia May. Kenneth was about the age of Boyer and Howard younger. Donald May was a few years younger. The other grandsons on down in age were Carl May, James David May, Harold May, Lester Van Nice, Quincy Robb, Jack May, Gordon Bradley, Cornelius Bradley, Richard Bradley, and Larry May.

      If future generations read this they may notice too many of the same or similar names, with boys named after father or grandfather and girls named after aunts. Mary Evaline Werts May had a sister Mabel Werts Allen, Mrs. Aylmer Allen; also a daughter Mabel May Robb, Mrs. Quincy Robb, Sr.; and a granddaughter Mabel May. For several years all three Mabels lived near Russell.

      Granddaughters named in part for her were Mary Lou May, and for a few years before 1919 there was Mary May Van Nice who was a victim of WWI flu. For Ruth Evelyn May and Evelyn Bradley, Grandma sometimes caught herself using the old pronunciation of her own middle name Evaline.
      At the family gatherings the men sat and talked together unhurriedly. The women, in the kitchen much of the time, visited just as quietly. Girls tended to spend most of the time with a girl or girls near their own age, and boys likewise with boys. Sunday after church was a day of rest and children were expected to be more or less quiet -- no noisy exercise to work off all that food. Outside they could wander around the farmstead. Boys turned the handle of the old cider press, or climbed up in the barn. They were forbidden to climb the windmill but at least one did. Small children picked trumpet flowers to put on all their fingers. There was an old sleigh, Christmas card type, on the was to the barn that children could sit in. It was said it had last been used when Aunt Belle taught school. About 1930 Caryle Werts built a miniature gold course in part of the barn lot that provided entertainment for a time. There was a little excitement the day a grandson picked up a small garter snake and carried it around in his pocket.

      Indoors there were stacks of old National Geographics to look at, a carom board and a box of caroms. For a time there was an early radio in the back parlor, with two sets of earphones, no speaker. Talk and play could be a little louder in the upstairs hall but venturing into the attic was forbidden, for there was no floor, only a few loose boards laid across the two-by-fours to hold the mysterious boxes and trunks and of some unknown danger up there, other longed to explore.
      Most of the May sons and daughters had an air of quiet reserve, of deliberate consideration before speaking, and so did many of their children. It seemed a May characteristic, rather than a Werts one, yet Grandma May was not a demonstrative person. Elizabeth Allen Harling wrote that Mary Evalines parents were like that, that Esther Ann Werts spoke quietly and John Jackson Werts was slow to speak or reply.

      Grandma May never said or did much at the family gatherings, being the oldest one there. She just looked happy to have her sons and daughters and their children around. She never paid much attention to the grandchildren at those times. That may have been the best way for her to treat all of them alike, when there were so many of them. Each one was very special and important to her in a number of ways. In those last months of her life she spoke favorably of each one of them more than once, of some characteristic or incident or words or action. She was not in the habit of affectionate phrases but the feeling of love and approval was in her voice. She enjoyed just seeing the little ones, and worried just a little about most of the older ones.

      One little grandchild told her of something that the very young have in common with the old and arthritic when she watched Grandma slowly arise from a comfortable chair. She exclaimed "Grandma! You are just like me! You have to hold the arms of the chair when you get up!"
      Mary Evaline Werts May bought a car in 1915, when very few women drove cars, and most men still depended on horses for transportation. On the day set to learn to drive she was called to assist at the birth of a grandchild, and then winter set in. She did not learn to drive until later, but she always remembered that grandchilds birthday. Grandma enjoyed being able to drive her car to church and to the homes of her nearby sons and daughters. She probably never drove farther than Chariton. She was surprised when her younger sister Susie McCoy drove alone all the way from Imperial, Nebraska to visit Russell and Des Moines relatives about 1930.

      Mary Evaline made occasional visits to the farther away sons and daughters. She told of visiting to the farther away grandson and admired how her granddaughter-in-law turned on the radio and quickly got a meal in the time to the music.

      She also made two longer trips. She went to Florida about 1918 when some of here brothers and their wives went there, and enjoyed picking up seashells on the beach. She got to see and admire mountains when she accompanied her brother Cliff and his wife on a trip west to see their brother Jake in Wyoming and sister Susie McCoy in Nebraska. Probably it was during a visit to her son Virgils in Wisconsin that she went to see her brother John Quincy Werts, who also lived in Wisconsin. She painted a picture of the stone house John Q. had built himself, different in style from a rock on he had built in Lucas County.

      Mary Evaline always had flowers blooming around her house in spring and summer -- iris, rose moss, gladiolas, and cannas were a few of them. She became interested in preserving native Iowa wildflowers, remembered there were blue gentian in the virgin sod of Salem Cemetery. In winter she had house plants in her big south window -- always geraniums among them and in the last few years, gloxinas. She designed and built, with some help from a grandson, a lily and goldfish pool outside and made a concrete bench, curved Roman style with seashells embedded around the edge. She made an aquarium to keep goldfish and snails indoors in winter.

      In her years of raising a family and being a busy farmers wife there was little spare time, but she fully enjoyed arts and crafts in her later years. She made crepe paper flowers for a time, bead corsages for gifts on Christmas, raffia and pine needle baskets, and may other projects.
      Like her daughter Junia, Mary Evaline had always wanted express herself artistically. She liked to draw pictures even as a small child. About 1920 she took a few lessons in oil painting from her daughter. Later she discovered that painting in oil on the back of glass was easier for her than on canvas. She painted pictures for her immediate family and a few other relatives. When non-relatives asked her to paint for them, they were usually put off, for her family came first. One exception was when a lady offered to do her spring house cleaning for her while she painted a picture. Grandma was so favorably impressed that someone was willing to do hard work for as long as a painting would take that she gladly did a large scene for her. Grandma had a high regard for willing and capable workers, whether the work was labor or art. Grandma would have approved some years later when on of her grandsons married that ladys daughter.

      For most of her younger grandchildren she painted scenes illustrating the childrens book "Heidi", mountain scenes with playful little goats and children. She had bought "Heidi" for a grandchild about the time she went to a place in Excelsior Springs, Missouri that was supposed to cure arthritis. She read the book and felt as homesick for her own house as Heidi felt for her mountain home when in the city. Heidis enjoyment of the romping little kids may have reminded her of how much she liked the playful little lambs of her own childhood.

      Though painted on fragile glass, done in her last months of life, many of these painting have survived.